Friday, September 12, 2008

The bottom line

Does this surprise anyone?

The government has admitted that it is powerless to stop energy firms passing on the cost on its fuel assistance package onto customers.

And did this surprise anyone?

An executive at energy firm E.On has sparked anger after saying that the continued high gas and electricity prices would mean "more money for us".

These are businesses. They exist to make profit. If you want them to do something other than that, you have to force them. This sort of comment only shows the limitations of ‘nudging’ companies towards socially desirable ends.

E.On says: “We have now launched an investigation into the context of the comment.” The context is that people think they are somehow entitled to ‘corporate social responsibility’.


Liam Murray said...

I don't think anyone has invoked the 'nudge' principle in support of improving corporate responsibility have they?

As I argued at Donpaskini it feels like elements of the moderate left have forgotten the accomodation Labour have came to with private business over the last 15 years.

It might appall some people that business operates like this but it's only because it does that our gas & electricity prices were a fraction of what they'd been in real terms for most of the century until very recently. The fact that things have now changed isn't a justifiable reason to changes the rules...

anticant said...

It is not inevitable that business has to act like this. In the 1930s and immediate postwar years the British iron and steel industry collectively followed a socially responsible policy of keeping prices pegged at a level agreed with the government, while individual firms competed among themselves for orders based upon quality, speed and promptness of delivery, and so forth.